Delegates at the round table meeting in Hyderabad on Thursday.

Delegates at the round table meeting in Hyderabad on Thursday. , Photo Credit: G RAMAKRISHNA

Garbage collectors who collect waste from assigned clusters of houses within the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits underscored their difficulties and released demands that include being covered under the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme and redressal system for prevention of harassment.

The garbage collectors, under the umbrella of Hyderabad Garbage Collectors’ Collective (HyGCC) articulated their living and working conditions and sought better treatment at the hands of GHMC supervisors as well as residents.

ā€œOwing to the nature of work and our caste backgrounds, we are at the receiving end of much discrimination, especially from communities we collect garbage from,ā€ a HyGCC statement reads.

A Indiramma, one such garbage collector, and a mother of three, underscored how supervisors and residents speak to her curtly when she was unable for garbage collection due to family emergencies. ā€œI start working at 6 am and finish at 1 pm. If I am unable to go to work, they make me stand and ask me if I want to work or not. When my vehicle stops, people complain that water is leaking from it (due to wet waste being carried). The residents scolded me,ā€ she said.

Madhavi D, also a mother of three, pointed out that taking care of the children becomes a challenge on account of the demanding nature of work. ā€œThere is nobody to take care of them and even if they or I fall ill, I have to go. People are rude. I have to go from Vaddar Basthi to Dilsukhnagar to work,ā€ she says.

G Balraj, who has been working as a garbage collector for three years, said that apart from the vehicle repayment, an important issue is finding funds for its repairs. ā€œThe repairs are costly and there is no insurance for the vehicle. I have to pay a lot of money every year,” he said.

In a statement issued to the media, HyGCC said that the GHMC allots around 600 houses and commercial establishments and provides subsidized vehicles known as Swachh auto tipper for garbage transportation. Other demands include insurance for these vehicles, a fixing of a minimum of ā‚¹100 per month per house and a system to ensure payments are regular. A final demand was the official recognition of the identity of garbage collectors as essential workers.

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